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Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days

The dog days of summer are over and that got me thinking:

What are the dog days of summer?

After a quick search on google, I discovered the true meaning behind the dog days of summer. Dog Days is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun. (Yes, I copied and pasted word for word, but I’m not being graded on creativity so I thought you wouldn’t mind.) I don’t care what Sirius is in conjunction with, or what it has to do with the dog days of summer, for me, it has a different meaning.

When I was a kid growing up in the far southwest corner of Oklahoma, I knew exactly what it meant.  As the temperatures soared to a steamy 100⁰ with not a storm cloud in sight, I sought shelter beneath the giant shade tree that stood just off the front porch; the family dog, a female shepherd mix, sprawled out beside me. On days like that, she would slowly move from one shady spot to another, her tongue hanging out like a dry sponge seeking moisture. My older sister would lie on a towel in the side yard with the radio blaring and a bottle of baby oil tainted with iodine by her side. She was shiny and slick and her fair skin would blotch red within minutes. I knew she wouldn’t last longer than it took me to ride my bike to the city pool. I would meet up with my best friend, and we would swim in the steamy hot bath oversaturated with chlorine until we were so water logged, we couldn’t even float. By afternoons end, I was limp as a wet noodle, my sister was fried like a crispy strip of bacon, and the dog was still sleeping on the front porch. But when night fell on my tiny town and the wrap-around porch on 221 West Friendship, the night crawlers came out to play.

With my best friend and younger sister, I ran barefoot in the yard, playing everything from freeze tag to hide and seek. When the mosquitoes had devoured 1/3 of our blood, we would retire to the porch roof (yes, Mom, I said it) and stare at the stars. Life was simple and beautiful and mysterious.

As a stay at home mom, it was my responsibility to keep my young children entertained when the dog days of summer filled our house with the constant phrase, “I’m so bored”, and I think I did a pretty good job. After all, life was different. Children couldn’t roam the streets like I did. There were too many cars to ride a bike safely, too many predators lurking around the corners, and too many video games to worry about who could run the fastest or climb to the highest tree branch.

In my quest to keep the kids satisfied and my sanity in tack, I ran the gambit with slip-n-slides, sprinklers, and water guns. One of our favorite activities was to fill a wagon full of water balloons and wait for Daddy to come home from work. I sat casually on the front step and waved as he pulled his blue Sunbird along the curb, hiding a snicker when the kids ran out from the bushes and bombarded him. He was always caught off guard but still managed to catch a few balloons and chase the kids down until they were soaked from head to toe. Life was fun, beautiful, and unexpected.

My children are more or less (mostly less) grown now, and my daughter just began her senior year of high school. Summer flew by and there just wasn’t enough time to worry about the dog days of summer. Now, it’s about finding the time to spend together. Life is fast, short.

Living in East Tennessee, the summers aren’t quite as hot as I remember. I still have a dog, a dachshund with a big round belly that is covered with freckles, and I have a front porch. When the day is near the end and the sun is setting, an orange glow lights up Justin’s garden on the hill. The yellow swing shines like the bright morning sun, and the gray memorial stone engraved with his name and the words Love is Forever, reminds me that life is precious.

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unconditional Love

the three Anyone who has had a child knows the thrill and anticipation that comes with the start of a family. Aside from the usual fear that the baby will be healthy, we wonder what he/she will look like—eye color, hair color, and size. Personality traits were not something I thought about, at least with my first-born, but it was apparent within a few days my bright-eyed baby boy was a frustrated little person with his own agenda. To be honest, I think he was bored. He needed to be entertained and stimulated constantly.  As a young adult, he was sensitive, intelligent, and a perfectionist with a fear of failure. He was a musician. I miss him terribly.

With the birth of my second son, eighteen months later, I wondered what he would be like more than what he would look like. Much to my amazement, he seemed perfectly content in his own little world. Unlike his brother, he wanted nothing to do with school, books, or learning the alphabet song. He questioned everything. He had a crazy good imagination and I think he taught his brother how to “play”. As a young adult, he is funny, witty, and super smart, in a wordly kind of way. Don’t tell him I said that because he is always right and he will say “I told you so.”) He is a debater.

My family was shaping up to be quite diverse but I had adjusted to “my boys” and their habits. Enter the princess, two years later. My daughter seemed to have the perfect mix. To steal a line from a popular teen series, she was her own sun. She was sweet, kind, and imaginative. Before her first birthday, I had not bought her any girl toys—baby dolls—but that didn’t stop her from cradling the boy’s super hero figurines. As a young adult, she is an avid reader, an artist, a bit on the romantic side, and wants to save the world—one tree at a time. She is a nurturer.

You might be wondering why I have given you a break-down of my family dynamics and frankly, I am too. I think it has something to do with the conversation (instant messaging on skype) I had with my second-born son this morning. As you may know, he is spending a year in Japan as an exchange student. It wasn’t about what was said, but rather the interaction.

A few lines have been deleted to protect the innocent!

[8:38:40 AM] Ben:   I cant breathe, suggestions?

[8:38:54 AM] Ben:   It’s rather problematic

[8:40:49 AM] Me:   you need a walgreens. Saline, vicks, sudafed. If you can’t get those, try steam either in the shower or put a towel over your head and lean over a pot of boiling water.

[8:41:06 AM] Ben: I think you misunderstand

[8:41:21 AM] Ben:   I have a severely stuffed nose, in which steam can do nothing about

[8:41:31 AM] Ben:   also I would look like an idiot with my face over boiling water,

[8:42:18 AM] Ben:   And immediate cures would be nice, as, for some odd reason, I can’t sleep when I can’t breathe, and it’s nearing that time

[8:42:56 AM] Me:   does your host family have any meds?

[8:43:02 AM] Ben:   no

[8:43:07 AM] Ben:   they’re japanese I think

[8:43:27 AM] Me:   ha ha. surely they take drugs

[8:43:38 AM] Ben:   I never took you for an advocate of drug use

[8:44:07 AM] Ben:   They dont keep meds on hand like we do. It’s all prescribed

[8:45:30 AM] Me:   you need to flush your sinuses and that requires squirting warm salt water up your nose while you lean your head to the side over a sink. bet you would love some afrin about now.

[8:46:05 AM] Ben:   That sounds like an answer from google

[8:46:32 AM] Me:   nope. I know…I had sinus surgery and had to clear my passages daily.

[8:46:38 AM] Ben:   Ew.

[8:47:54 AM] Ben:   also i might have the flu as it were

[8:48:03 AM]Me:   It’s actually pretty nice. like the netipot. it works and saline is not medicated. try and get some. like I said, you can make it yourself but you need something to squirt it with.

[8:48:50 AM] Me:   You had better get to the doctor. Do they have tamaflu over there? If you take it within 48 hours, it will diminish the flu greatly.

[8:49:17 AM] Ben:   I’m not sure.

[8:49:29 AM] Ben:   I will speak with my tribal chieftan tomorrow, and will probably visit the witch doctor.

[8:51:22 AM] Me:   awesome. witch doctor might be able to whip up a concoction that will help you sleep…possibly even hallucinate! Don’t wait though. The flu can be dangerous and several perfectly healthy teens or rather young adults have died suddenly here. it is epidemic.

[8:53:01 AM] Ben:   I am aware of the dangers of infections. Though, as a relatively healthy active 18 year old male, with no problems regarding immune system, and a resting heartbeat of 61 bpm followed by relatively low-blood pressure, instantaneous flu inspired death is not on my list of worries. apologies for the severely large run on sentence.

[8:53:48 AM] Ben:   And yet I neglected to capitalize in my apology, I really am losing touch with English..

[8:54:40 AM] Me:   their flu might find your blood tastier and therefore, more deadly. don’t argue with your mother. As for your english…

[8:55:10 AM] Ben:   As for MY English, let us first address yours as well!

[8:55:42 AM] Ben:   *Third, you don’t need a comma after therefore, neglected to capitalize Don’t

[8:56:25 AM] Ben: ❤

[8:57:52 AM] Me:   My word program automatically capitalizes the first word of a sentence. so does my phone when I text. i can’t help it that skype does not. i also can’t help the fact that I am too lazy to stretch my finger over the shift key.

[8:58:10 AM] Ben:   Noted.

[8:59:42 AM] Me:   we are preparing for 1/2″ of ICE tomorrow morning. Probably going to lose power and a few trees. should be ugly but let me know when you get to the doctor. I will be praying for a speedy recovery

[9:01:21 AM] Ben:   I think even you may agree, that if everyone volunteered instead, the world would be a much, much, better place

[9:02:25 AM] Me:   okay. i volunteer to take you to tthe doctor and nurse you back to health.

[9:02:45 AM] Ben:   That would be far more productive, no?

[9:04:24 AM] Me:   well, no. I would have to pray for a miracle to get me to Japan. No?

[9:04:59 AM] Ben:   A miracle is a suspension of the natural order, getting to Japan would not require such.

[9:06:54 AM] Me:   In a world of unpredictability, there is one thing that remains consistent. You Are A Pain In The Ass. love you

[9:07:17 AM] Ben:   I’m not quite sure how to take that.

[9:07:24 AM] Ben:   Clearly unconditional love at its best though

[9:08:28 AM] Me:   Clearly.

As you can see in the example above, all the elements (characteristics) were there early on, I just wasn’t sure which would be the dominant.  Children are like grab bags. You may know there’s an assortment of candy inside but you’re just not sure what’s going to come out when you reach your hand in. I can’t take all the blame  um…credit since my husband had a hand in raising them.

I don’t know what the future holds for my children and sometimes that scares the heck out of me. But what I do know is this: We have given them their wings–life will teach them how to fly.

Categories: Life is an Adventure | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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